E. M. Leifer
Mar 1, 1990
Abstract Network analysis has ignored the process of network enactment. Yet there are many fairness norms, such as reciprocity, that are oriented toward the timing of encounters as much as toward their structure. The difficulties involved in enacting a network within the bounds of such fairness norms can constrain what kinds of network structures are sustainable. In this paper, these difficulties are assessed across networks varying in size, density and differentiation using a computer program that searches for fair network enactments. In one application, the results help explain actual fairness properties of National Football League season schedules (1960–1987), such as the decrease in home-away game alternation after the 1969 merger between AFL and NFL and the threshold that was reached in 1977 and not substantially exceeded since. In another application, null expectations for short-run exchange imbalances (between giving and taking) are generated for networks where a long-run generalized norm of reciprocity strictly holds. A strong faith in the long run is needed in large, moderately dense, undifferentiated networks because eliminating the short-run imbalances can be infeasible. The pursuit of fairness is limited as much by the means of network designers as by their intentions.